JEFFERSON CITY - The official manual of the State of Missouri, or the "blue book," has gotten a digital makeover for the new millenium, Secretary of State Bekki Cook announced Thursday.
"It is only fitting that we close out the century and move to a new one by producing the book using the latest technology," Cook said.
This year's edition will not only be published in the traditional book-bound fashion, but will also be available for the first time on the internet and on CD-ROM.
The blue book, nicknamed after its distinctive blue cover, contains information about state government and its officials, including the salaries of state employees.
A link to the new manual has already been established on the secretary of state's homepage, and a complete version of the first three chapters are now viewable online.
Cook said her office has received a number of inquiries during the past few years about when the blue book would be available on the web. However, her staff did not have the capabilities or resources before now to convert the manual into a digital template.
Missouri is one of few states that has taken steps to put its official manual online. Cook said her staff plans to make the entire book available on the web by the end of this year.
Cook's office also plans on making the Blue Book into a CD ROM format, which will be given to public libraries and schools across the state. Although work on the CD ROM has not yet begun, Cook said she hopes to have it completed by early next year.
"The CD ROM and all this other new technology will allow for more flexibility in the classroom and at home," Cook said. "Kids will be able to download parts of the blue book for projects and teachers will be able to use it in their instruction."
This year's blue book is not only different in its emphasis on technology. The cover's binding is stamped with the letters "MM" which in Roman Numerals stands for the year 2000. These letters are also the abbreviation for "Missouri Millenium," which is a theme throughout the manual.
Inside the book, along with the government information, are color photographs and essays that were submitted by residents from around the state. Last spring, the secretary of state's office asked schoolchildren around the state to write about their views of the future. The office received over 4200 essays, and about 75 were chosen for inclusion in the book.
Cook said she wanted this year's manual to serve as a valuable source of current information, as well as a historical record.
"As time goes by, I believe the photos and essays will provide a unique historical perspective of life in Missouri at the end of the 20th century," Cook said.